With production underway in Vancouver, Walt Disney Studios has announced that it will co-produce and co-finance The BFG, Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic book.
Three-time Tony Award winner Mark Rylance (The Gunmen) will play the title character, with newcomer Ruby Barnhill cast as Sophie, but today with the Disney deal comes news of the rest of the cast for the film.
Bill Hader (The Skeleton Twins) and Jemaine Clement (What We Do in the Shadows) are the bigger names in the cast, as well as Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey) and Rebecca Hall (The Prestige), who will play The Queen and The Queen’s maid, Mary, in the film.
Michael David Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Adam Godley, Jonathan Holmes, Paul Moniz de Sa and Olafur Olaffson have also joined the cast as giants, while The Hobbit star Martin Freeman may also have a role, but his name was not mentioned in today’s announcement so his inclusion may well just be rumours.
“In more than 40 years of making movies, I have been on the producing end of a number of films for The Walt Disney Company, but never as a director,” said Spielberg. “It is a special joy to be in the director’s chair as we start The BFG, alongside my long-time friends and film collaborators Kathy Kennedy, who introduced me to this project, Frank Marshall and Melissa Mathison. Together with them and Disney, there are many reasons why I am so excited about this joint venture.”
“With Steven Spielberg at the helm, The BFG will undoubtedly capture the minds of children and adults alike – as Roald Dahl’s original stories and many of Steven’s own films have done for decades,” said Alan Horn, Walt Disney Studios Chairman. “The team at Disney has tremendous respect for the filmmakers, and we’re thrilled to join with them to make what will be a spectacular picture.”
“This partnership speaks to the spirit of storytelling and the kinds of movies that we make here,” said Michael Wright, CEO of DreamWorks Studios. “Over the years, we have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Disney in this expanded capacity on The BFG.”
The BFG tells the story of a young London girl and the mysterious Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Based on the beloved novel by Roald Dahl, The BFG was first published in 1982 and is one of Dahl’s most beloved books.
Melissa Mathison, who worked with Spielberg on E.T., has written the script, with the film set for release on July 1st, 2016 in the US and on July 22nd, 2016 in the UK.